Juve wins as Higuain, Buffon stand out on night for legends
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 13, 2017 11:10 AM
Gonzalo Higuain (AP Photo)
ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer
ROME (AP) — It seemed appropriate that Gonzalo Higuain and Gianluigi Buffon stood out on a night for legends.
After Italy's all-time leading scorer Luigi Riva was honored before kickoff with the country's highest sports honor, Higuain scored twice and Buffon preserved a clean sheet with a spectacular save as Serie A leader Juventus won 2-0 at 10-man Cagliari on Sunday.
Buffon shared a long embrace with the 72-year-old Riva in the pre-match ceremony for the golden collar award. The pair developed a lasting friendship during Riva's long tenure working as an adviser to Italy's national team, which was interrupted in 2013 when Riva began to have health problems.
"You're an emblematic athlete who made an entire population and all of Italy proud," Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni told the crowd in Sardinia, where Riva led Cagliari to its only title in 1970.
Once the match started, Higuain took the spotlight with goals either side of halftime.
The Argentina international beat the offside trap and used one touch to chip in an angled effort over the goalkeeper. He then concluded a counterattack that he had started in Juve's own end from nearly the same position as his first goal — this time using two touches.
With 18 goals, Higuain joined Edin Dzeko atop the league's scoring chart. With 14 matches still to play, Higuain is halfway to the 36 he scored with Napoli last season to break a 66-year-old Serie A record.
Dzeko scored in Roma's 2-0 win at relegation-threatened Crotone earlier after missing a first-half penalty.
Juventus remained seven points ahead of second-place Roma as it seeks a record sixth straight title.
Cagliari's Nicolo Barella picked up his second yellow card midway through the second half and then Buffon stretched out to tip wide a powerful, curving shot from Fabio Pisacane.
CROTONE 0, ROMA 2
Edin Dzeko finally found the target after missing a penalty and hitting the crossbar for Roma.
Radja Nainggolan opened the scoring in the 40th and Dzeko finished from close range in the 77th.
Roma moved back into second, two points ahead of Napoli, which beat Genoa 2-0 on Friday.
It was only the sixth win in 13 away matches for Roma, which has won all 11 of its home fixtures.
Shortly after the quarter-hour mark, Mohamed Salah was pushed down inside the area to set up Dzeko's penalty. The Bosnia and Herzegovina international hesitated to see which way goalkeeper Alex Cordaz went but then kicked a low shot wide of the goal in the same direction.
It was Dzeko's second miss from the penalty spot this season — most in Serie A.
"It happens. It's nothing serious but I won't be taking the next one," Dzeko said.
Still, Roma controlled throughout against a Calabrian squad playing in the top flight for the first time in its 107-year history.
The Giallorossi went ahead when Nainggolan scored with a low, angled shot across the area into the far corner.
In the 53rd, Nainggolan set up Dzeko, whose shot was slightly deflected off the bar.
A minute later, Roma wasted another chance when a header from defender Federico Fazio hit the post following a corner with Cordaz beaten.
Dzeko finally hit the target after a nice setup from Salah left him with plenty of room to find the target.
INTER MILAN 2, EMPOLI 0
Even with captain Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic suspended, Inter had little trouble with relegation-threatened Empoli at the San Siro.
Italy internationals Eder and Antonio Candreva combined on both goals for the Nerazzurri.
Eder used his chest to redirect a cross from Candreva and put Inter ahead in the 14th, then Candreva redirected a long, accurate cross from Eder to score by the far post in the 54th.
Inter moved up to fourth, six points behind Napoli and the Champions League places.
Atalanta remained level on points with Inter after a 3-1 win at Palermo, getting goals from Andrea Conti, Alejandro "Papu" Gomez and Bryan Cristante.
Andrea Belotti scored twice in Torino's 5-3 win over last-placed Pescara to raise his season tally to 17, one below Dzeko and Higuain.
Also, Chievo Verona beat 10-man Sassuolo 3-1 and Sampdoria came back from a goal down to defeat Bologna 3-1.
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf